May 2012


Cherry and I hiked on Friday for the first time in months. We got rained out of a previous date and then Cherry’s sister had eye surgery, so she wasn’t available. But Friday, sunny with a cool start, was a perfect day for an excursion. We decided to drop frustrating Cockaponsett, at least for a while, and explore Field Forest, owned by Connecticut Forest & Park Association, in Durham.

Wearing newly-delegated-to-hiking pants, Cherry explained her hairdresser had found a tick a few weeks prior, so she was wearing lighter pants. (Interestingly, I discovered a tick the following day on my left calf at my sock line.) Off we went, with much to discuss.

We followed the main trail that generally encircled the 150-acre tract. Most was fairly flat, with a gentle slope to start. After an update on Cherry’s sister’s surgery, we moved on to cover relationships. I was at a dead standstill, while Cherry was at least conversing with an interesting potential.

We had to circumnavigate numerous blowdowns, possibly from the October snow. We were delighted to see wild geranium still in flower, as most other spring flowers had come early this year. Filled with fully-leafed trees, the walk was lovely. We scared up a red-tail hawk that streamed past us through the forest. I brought Cherry up to date on my activities since our last hike. I had held two signing events for my novel and was trying to publish a second book. My ecotherapy work was gaining momentum and I had just signed up to take a NatureConnect class with Mike Cohen.

The final leg led past a vernal pool, an area I had visited a few weeks prior with Women of the Woods. At that time, the pool was teaming with tadpoles but, today, its edges were lined with green frogs, each giving a little shriek, as it plunked back into the safety of the water.

When we returned to our cars, we agreed to try Cockaponsett again for June. Wish us luck!

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Have you ever headed out for a brisk walk when confronted with a difficult decision? Before long, you start noticing the birds calling or your neighbor’s flowers and you return home with clarity about your situation.

Or have you calmed yourself by taking a drive to the ocean or river? The sound of water rushing over rocks or washing on the shore brings a sense of exhilaration and joy that puts your problem in perspective.

Some of us have intuitively known the healing power of nature and research is proving us right. Studies show that medical patients heal faster when their views include trees; students score higher on tests, can focus, and are more cooperative and kind, when they live near green areas or participate in nature programs; our mental health issues, such as ADHD, depression, and stress, can subside when we spend time outdoors.

All of this is captured in the emerging field of ecotherapy, which promotes mutually beneficial relationships between people and nature. Ecotherapy encourages us to use our sense and heart to experience and interact with the rest of the world.

The Middletown Park and Recreation Department is offering a four-session ecotherapy program, HealingNature, to help us reconnect to nature in a personal way. Sessions will be held on Thursdays in June, from 6:30pm to 8:00pm. Pre-register by May 21: send a completed general registration form (available online or call 860 343 6620) and check for $65 to Middletown Park & Recreation Department, 100 Riverview Center, #140, Middletown, CT 06457. Open to all mobility levels. Questions: Beth@HealingNatureCT.com or 860 398 4470.

Take a look: Experience Healing Power of Nature in New Class

The lady slippers are out! With all the blowdowns this past year, I hoped they would manage to erupt through the rubble. A group of fifteen to twenty plants, a third of them blooming, are yet again scattered across the curving slope of a conglomerate outcrop.

Lady slippers. The concept of orchids growing in New England is staggering. I think of them as tropic, difficult to raise, picky and delicate. Not winter-hardy or robust enough to flourish in our acidic woodlands.

And their blossom is, well…I’ll say it. Erotic. Scrotal. Yet girly pink. Maybe showing us the common ground shared by our two genders.

Native Americans, calling it moccasin flower, saw it with different eyes. Some said it could invoke spirit dreams just by its presence. Others used is as a sedative for mental health issues and women’s issues.

Me? I see them as a symbol of resistance, persistence, and spring. Welcome back, beautiful ones!

And you?

Do you miss that peaceful feeling you get from spending time outside?  Would you like to be inspired by nature? Are you interested in advocating for nature’s creatures? Join a four-class session, HealingNature, offered through the Middletown (CT) Park & Recreation Department for an introduction to ecotherapy to help us balance ourselves through connections with nature.

Instructor Beth Lapin brings 20 years experience as a field biologist and an equal amount as a social worker — and masters degrees in both – along with decades of experience leading outdoor excursions and therapeutic groups. “Not just another hike in the woods, although that’s included, we will use our senses to strengthen our connection with the natural world,” she explained.” Anyone with questions can contact her: Beth@HealingNatureCT.com or call 860 398 4470.

Sessions will meet on Thursdays in June from 6:30 until 8:00pm at Ron McCutcheon Park at Crystal Lake in Middletown, CT. Pre-register by May 21: send a completed registration form (email for copy) and check for $65 to Middletown Park & Recreation Department, 100 Riverview Center, #140, Middletown, CT 06457. Open to all mobility levels.